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In Lebanon, Pope Calls for Religious Freedom

Confetti is thrown as Pope Benedict XVI arrives in the popemobile to the Baabda Presidential Palace southeast of Beirut 15 Sept. During his meeting with government, religious and cultural leaders at the palace, the pope urged multifaith Lebanon to be a model of peace and religious coexistence in the Middle East. (Photo: CNS/Paul Haring) 

He also said that peace requires a shared respect for human life and dignity. Those values are undermined not only by war, he said, but by a range of social ills, including unemployment, corruption, “different forms of trafficking,” and an “economic and financial mindset which would subordinate ‘being’ to ‘having.’”

The pope also warned against ideologies that he said “undermine the foundations of our society” by “questioning, directly or indirectly, or even before the law, the inalienable value of each person and the natural foundation of the family” — an apparent reference to abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage.

In response to such threats, Pope Benedict said, political and religious leaders should promote a “culture of peace” through education, which he said would encourage a “conversion of heart” characterized above all by a willingness to forgive.

“Only forgiveness, given and received,” the pope said, “can lay lasting foundations for reconciliation and universal peace.”

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Tags: Middle East Christians Pope Benedict XVI Arab Spring Synod of Bishops for Middle East